Rap-rocker Joe Mulherin, better known as nothing, nowhere., knew it might rankle fans and promoters when he canceled most of his summer tour this year — including high profile U.K. gigs at the Reading and Leeds festivals. But he didn’t make such a serious decision lightly. Panic attacks and anxiety the Massachusetts native had suffered since childhood had reached such a fever pitch, he couldn’t leave his house for a trip to the neighborhood grocery store, much less step into a spotlight’s unforgiving glare. He needed therapeutic help, fast, so he ground everything to a halt to seek it. Now reinvigorated and back on the road, he wrote a harrowing new single called “Dread” that details what he went through. “After I sought therapy, instead of releasing some statement, I chose to just put it all in a song,” he says.
How long have you had this anxiety?
I’ve had it since about second grade, even though I didn’t know what it was when I was younger. I remember finally going to therapists, and I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks, and it’s been something that’s come and gone throughout my life. And unfortunately, it came back really, really strongly. And I decided to take the time that I needed to recover. And hopefully it set an example for other people in the music business.
Cognitive therapy is underrated.
Yeah. I think the stigma’s been lifted a little bit, but there is still a stigma surrounding it. But it’s important — you can’t keep these things inside. But I had this vast array of options, and I wanted to attack it from all angles. So I took the traditional route of psychiatrist/therapist, and my mom’s a nurse, so she guided me through that whole thing. But I also took the whole Eastern route. I’m really interested in Buddhism and Taoism, and meditation has been instrumental in my recovery. So I tried everything and figured out what works for me.
What did you learn in the process?
That I am not my feelings. They say that feelings aren’t facts. But I learned that you can be the observer of your own emotions. So I don’t say that I’m anxious — I say that I’m feeling anxious. I learned a lot of that from my meditation practice.
Do you ever listen back to your cathartic catalog and go, “Whoa! What was I going on about there?”
I do. I do listen back, and sometimes I can’t even listen to certain things. There are songs that I’ve shelved because I don’t ever want to put myself in that headspace again, and I’m just grateful that I’m not there anymore.
IF YOU GO
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9
Tickets: $20 to $22
Contact: (415) 255-0333, www.eventbrite.com